Catch-A-Bug Sensory Bin

Catch-A-Bug Sensory Bin

Do you have a bug-loving preschooler or preschool class? My little learners get so excited over our bug week unit, and one of the biggest hits is the bug sensory bin. Getting messy AND playing with (pretend) bugs, what is there not to love!?

bug sensory bin

If you are part of our newsletter community (and if you aren’t, you can sign up in the top left corner), you would know we are big fans of what we call “sensory bin wins”. In fact, once a month I have a whole e-mail dedicated to them.

Sensory bin wins are those sensory bins that are so engaging that you have time to drink a hot cup of coffee and maybe even put your feet up. The Catch-a-Bug sensory bin is definitely a sensory bin win in my classroom! 

Setting up the Bug Sensory Bin

The setup for the bin is a two-part process, but trust me it is worth it. First, you make the gelatin “mud” base. To do so, mix brown food coloring and gelatin and follow the directions on the box to make the gelatin in your plastic tub. Then refrigerate your gelatin overnight. 


bug sensory bin


Next, you will make your spaghetti grass. Start by making spaghetti noodles as usual, then rinse with cold water and strain. Put the noodles in a ziplock with green food coloring and mix until the noodles are all covered. Once the gelatin is set you will add your noodles to the top of the “mud”.

Full disclosure, this is a one-time use, MESSY sensory bin. If you wanted your sensory bin to be used again, you could always substitute the gelatin and pasta for fake grass or green rainbow rice.


bug sensory bin


Once you have your grass and dirt ready, then it is time to add in your plastic bugs. I wanted the bugs to be realistic to match my real-world pictures, and I love these that I got from Amazon. 

Bug Sensory Bin in Action 

Once I had my sensory bin all set up, it was time to play! Using tweezers kids picked out the bugs, then identified and sorted them.


bug sensory bin


We used the bug cards from my Bug Week lesson plans to figure out what kind of bug it was. You want to laminate these cards if you plan on using them again!


bug sensory bin


If you don’t believe me it was messy, even the kids asked for baby wipes because they wanted to clean off the bugs. 


bug sensory bin


Extending the Bug Sensory Bin

If you want to direct your little ones play a bit more, a fun way to extend the activity is with the Bug Counting Sheet. There are different ways you can use the counting sheet, depending on your student’s age or capabilities.


bug sensory bin


With my little ones, we made check marks in the boxes for the bugs they found. You could also focus on counting and writing numbers to record the amount of each bug. Another option would be if you are teaching students about tally marks, you could reinforce those skills by having them make tallies of the bugs as they find them.

More Bug Week Fun

If you are looking for more bug activities, check out these blog posts:

Hands-on Bee Activities for Preschoolers 

Build-a-Bug: Last Minute Toddler Activities 

Ant Observation: A Simple Science Activity  

And for more bug resources, my Bug Week lesson plans have five days' worth of hands-on activities, crafts, and book recommendations. 

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